Monday, November 30, 2009
My favorite poet, Robert Service, gets little or no respect from Professors of English; I think because he was a Scot, and possibly because he actually made a living writing poetry. In his collection of Bar-Room Ballads, published in 1940, Mr. Service uses the term Sassenach twice in one of his poems. This word is a Scottish/Gaelic term derived from an early word for Saxon. It is a somewhat derogatory term for anything English. Use of this word may be one of the reasons this successful and entertaining writer is still being snubbed for all of his works except for a few early poems about the Yukon Gold Rush.
Below is the offending poem; a great story to read on Saint Andrew's Day. Now pour a glass of good Scotch, crank up a CD of bagpipes, and enjoy a good story.
The Ballad of How MacPherson Held the Floor
Said President MacConnachie to Treasurer MacCall:
"We ought to have a piper for our next Saint Andrew's Ball.
Yon squakin' saxophone gives me the syncopated gripes.
I'm sick of jazz, I want to hear the skirling of the pipes."
"Alas! it's true," said Tam MacCall. "The young folk of to-day
Are fox-trot mad and dinna ken a reel from a Strathspey.
Now, what we want's a kiltie lad, primed up wi' mountain dew,
To strut the floor at supper time, and play a lilt or two.
In all the North there's only one; of him I've heard them speak:
His name is Jock MacPherson, and he lives on Boulder Creek;
An old-time hard-rock miner, and a wild and wastrel loon,
Who spends his nights in glory, playing pibrochs to the moon.
I'll seek him out; beyond a doubt on next Saint Andrew's night
We'll proudly hear the pipes to cheer and charm our appetite.
Oh lads were neat and lassies sweet who graced Saint Andrew's Ball;
But there was none so full of fun as Treasurer MacCall.
And as Maloney's rag-time band struck up the newest hit,
He smiled a smile behind his hand, and chuckled: "Wait a bit."
And so with many a Celtic snort, with malice in his eye,
He watched the merry crowd cavort, till supper time drew nigh.
Then gleefully he seemed to steal, and sought the Nugget Bar,
Wherein there sat a tartaned chiel, as lonely as a star;
A huge and hairy Highlandman as hearty as a breeze,
A glass of whisky in his hand, his bag-pipes on his knees.
"Drink down your doch and doris, Jock," cried Treasurer MacCall;
"The time is ripe to up and pipe; they wait you in the hall.
Gird up your loins and grit your teeth, and here's a pint of hooch
To mind you of your native heath - jist pit it in your pooch.
Play on and on for all you're worth; you'll shame us if you stop.
Remember you're of Scottish birth - keep piping till you drop.
Aye, though a bunch of Willie boys should bluster and implore,
For the glory of the Highlands, lad, you've got to hold the floor.
"The dancers were at supper, and the tables groaned with cheer,
When President MacConnachie exclaimed: "What do I hear?
Methinks it's like a chanter, and its coming from the hall."
"It's Jock MacPherson tuning up," cried Treasurer MacCall.
So up they jumped with shouts of glee, and gaily hurried forth.
Said they: "We never thought to see a piper in the North.
"Aye, all the lads and lassies braw went buzzing out like bees,
And Jock MacPherson there they saw, with red and rugged knees.
Full six foot four he strode the floor, a grizzled son of Skye,
With glory in his whiskers and with whisky in his eye.
With skelping stride and Scottish pride he towered above them all:
"And is he no' a bonny sight?" said Treasurer MacCall.
While President MacConnachie was fairly daft with glee,
And there was jubilation in the Scottish Commy-tee.
But the dancers seemed uncertain, and they signified their doubt,
By dashing back to eat as fast as they had darted out.
And someone raised the question 'twixt the coffee and the cakes:
"Does the Piper walk to get away from all the noise he makes?
"Then reinforced with fancy food they slowly trickled forth,
And watching in patronizing mood the Piper of the North.
Proud, proud was Jock MacPherson, as he made his bag-pipes skirl,
And he set his sporran swinging, and he gave his kilts a whirl.
And President MacConnachie was jumping like a flea,
And there was joy and rapture in the Scottish Commy-tee.
"Jist let them have their saxophones wi' constipated squall;
We're having Heaven's music now," said Treasurer MacCall.
But the dancers waxed impatient, and they rather seemed to fret
For Maloney and the jazz of his Hibernian Quartette.
Yet little recked the Piper, as he swung with head on high,
Lamenting with MacCrimmon on the heather hills of Skye.
With Highland passion in his heart he held the centre floor;
Aye, Jock MacPherson played as he had never played before.
Maloney's Irish melodists were sitting in their place,
And as Maloney waited, there was wonder in his face.
'Twas sure the gorgeous music - Golly! wouldn't it be grand
If he could get MacPherson as a member of his band?
But the dancers moped and mumbled, as around the room they sat:
"We paid to dance," they grumbled; "But we cannot dance to that.
Of course we're not denying that it's really splendid stuff;
But it's mighty satisfying - don't you think we've had enough?"
"You've raised a pretty problem," answered Treasurer MacCall;
"For on Saint Andrew's Night, ye ken, the Piper rules the Ball.
"Said President MacConnachie: "You've said a solemn thing.
Tradition holds him sacred, and he's got to have his fling.
But soon, no doubt, he'll weary out. Have patience; bide a wee."
"That's right. Respect the Piper," said the Scottish Commy-tee.
And so MacPherson stalked the floor, and fast the moments flew,
Till half an hour went past, as irritation grew and grew.
The dancers held a council, and with faces fiercely set,
They hailed Maloney, heading his Hibernian Quartette:
"It's long enough, we've waited. Come on, Mike, play up the Blues."
And Maloney hesitated, but he didn't dare refuse.
So banjo and piano, and guitar and saxophone
Contended with the shrilling of the chanter and the drone;
And the women's ears were muffled, so infernal was the din,
But MacPherson was unruffled, for he knew that he would win.
Then two bright boys jazzed round him, and they sought to play the clown,
But MacPherson jolted sideways, and the Sassenachs went down.
And as if it was a signal, with a wild and angry roar,
The gates of wrath were riven - yet MacPherson held the floor.
Aye, amid the rising tumult, still he strode with head on high,
With ribbands gaily streaming, yet with battle in his eye.
Amid the storm that gathered, still he stalked with Highland pride,
While President and Treasurer sprang bravely to his side.
And with ire and indignation that was glorious to see,
Around him in a body ringed the Scottish Commy-tee.
Their teeth were clenched with fury; their eyes with anger blazed:
"Ye manna touch the Piper," was the slogan that they raised.
Then blows were struck, and men went down; yet 'mid the rising fray
MacPherson towered in triumph - and he never ceased to play.
Alas! his faithful followers were but a gallant few,
And faced defeat, although they fought with all the skill they knew.
For President MacConnachie was seen to slip and fall,
And o'er his prostrate body stumbled Treasurer MacCall.
And as their foes with triumph roared, and leagured them about,
It looked as if their little band would soon be counted out.
For eyes were black and noses red, yet on that field of gore,
As resolute as Highland rock - MacPherson held the floor.
Maloney watched the battle, and his brows were bleakly set,
While with him paused and panted his Hibernian Quartette.
For sure it is an evil spite, and breaking to the heart,
For Irishmen to watch a fight and not be taking part.
Then suddenly on high he soared, and tightened up his belt:
"And shall we see them crush," he roared, "a brother and a Celt?
A fellow artiste needs our aid. Come on, boys, take a hand."
Then down into the mêlée dashed Maloney and his band.
Now though it was Saint Andrew's Ball, yet men of every race,
That bow before the Great God Jazz were gathered in that place.
Yea, there were those who grunt: "Ya! Ya!" and those who squeak: "We! We!"
Likewise Dutch, Dago, Swede and Finn, Polack and Portugee.
Yet like ripe grain before the gale that national hotch-potch
Went down before the fury of the Irish and the Scotch.
Aye, though they closed their gaping ranks and rallied to the fray,
To the Shamrock and the Thistle went the glory of the day.
You should have seen the carnage in the drooling light of dawn,
Yet 'mid the scene of slaughter Jock MacPherson playing on.
Though all lay low about him, yet he held his head on high,
And piped as if he stood upon the caller crags of Skye.
His face was grim as granite, and no favour did he ask,
Though weary were his mighty lungs and empty was his flask.
And when a fallen foe wailed out: "Say! when will you have done?"
MacPherson grinned and answered: "Hoots! She's only haf' begun."
Aye, though his hands were bloody, and his knees were gay with gore,
A Grampian of Highland pride - MacPherson held the floor.
And still in Yukon valleys where the silent peaks look down,
They tell of how the Piper was invited up to town,
And he went in kilted glory, and he piped before them all,
But wouldn't stop his piping till he busted up the Ball.
Of that Homeric scrap they speak, and how the fight went on,
With sally and with rally till the breaking of the dawn.
And how the Piper towered like a rock amid the fray,
And the battle surged about him, but he never ceased to play.
Aye, by the lonely camp-fires, still they tell the story o'er-
How the Sassenach was vanquished and - MacPherson held the floor.
I have been spliting wood the old fashioned way for forty years; with a Sotz Monster Maul since 1980. Splitting with a maul is good exercise, and you learn to read a chunk of wood pretty well, but this year I realized that my elbows needed some relief. We did some research online, and made the jump to a 35 ton gas powered splitter. Holy Cow, what a difference! We should have done this years ago. One big advantage of this machine is that we no longer have to pick up heavy pieces of wood. We can park the splitter near the downed tree, and then roll the wood to the splitter. Thirty-five tons is a lot of push, and we won't be leaving many hard-to-split rounds in the woods now. We have worked up four trees with this new machine so far, and it has been able to split every gnarly, knotty chunk that we have thrown at it.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Bidone1967 is a YouTuber that we just met on the Internet, and I think that he lives in Germany. His videos are extra nice quality, and today's steam video, plucked form Bidone's channel, is a cute little English traction engine. I think this was filmed at a show in Germany, but since I can't read his notes, that's just an educated guess from clues in the video.
Friday, November 27, 2009
"When My Baby Smiles" was recorded in January, 1920, and is an Irving Berlin song. It has always been one of my favorite records, and now that we have it on YouTube I can listen to it without changing a needle every play. We have company for the Thanksgiving weekend, so I am being lazy and re-posting this record rather than posting a new one. Next week we should have the True Blue Studio back in operation.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
This nicely restored IHC Titan engine was at Mt. Pleasant last September. You will note that it is very similar to the Mogul throttle governed engine that I videoed at Pinckneyville. Old machines like this are a joy to watch, with all of the parts exposed; just stay back and don't get your clothes caught in the revolving machinery.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Pax41 keeps posting great copies of his music collection. "The Sweetest Story Ever Told" was recorded in July, 1917, so we know this is an acoustic recording. The clarity is amazing. The singer is Sophie Braslau; the conductor is Josef Pasternack.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Click the photos to enlarge them for a better view of the system. This drive system uses fewer parts than the typical engine of its day, and I am sure that there was much less clanking going on when starting and stopping.
You can see the back side of the crankshaft drive pinion in this photo. Aultman-Taylor engines used the Woolf reverse gear that you will also see on Case steam engines.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Snappy dance number (Fox-Trot) by the Manhattan Dance Makers, recorded on March 17, 1926. This is the flip side of "When The Golden Rod Is Blooming," a song we posted last year. Our good microphone is still away, so this one was recorded with our old mike. This record is loud and boisterous, so I think we can get away with using our tinny microphone, and we hope we will have the good one back soon. Shake a leg.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Last summer at the Pinckneyville show I visited with the owner of the beautifully restored 4 HP engine shown in the video below. I mentioned the 10 HP engine in Eastern Kentucky, and he took down the contact info. I had a call a few nights ago from Jim (the 4 HP Mogul owner), of St. Peters, MO, and he is now the giddy owner of the 4000 pound, 10 HP Mogul. He made a deal over the phone with my old friend, and made the round trip from west of St. Louis to Johnson County, Kentucky to retrieve the very nice specimen of old iron. He is already well into the restoration process, and he expects to show it next summer. This old engine ran a stone buhr mill for grinding corn meal (and probably malted corn for whiskey) during its working years, and it also powered a generator to charge the batteries for a rural phone exchange.
The machinery on the 4 HP model operates the same as the 10 HP, and they have great appeal for old machinery aficianadoes. I hope these two are operating side by side next year at Pinckneyville.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
We started seeing Christmas decorations in the stores before Halloween this year. At least they waited until after Labor Day. Mr. McCurdy was on the town square in Washington, Iowa last Saturday, and even if Thanksgiving isn't here yet, his old tuba sounded pretty good. While I was taking his picture, my classmate from our one room school came by. We started school together 53 years ago. Visiting home makes you wonder where the years go.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
"A New Kind Of Love," sung by Maurice Chevalier has always struck me when I listen to it because Mr. Chevalier is such a happy sounding fellow. He was a Great War veteran who served in the French Army, was wounded, captured, and was a POW for two years. After the war he continued with his performing career, which was very remarkable. During WWII he made a deal to have some allied prisoners released from the same camp where he had been held, by performing there. While he worked in Hollywood for Paramount he did earn a reputation for being a penny pincher, bargaining the parking price down to a nickel from ten cents per day. According to the current philsophy being touted by the news media, Maurice should have been a murderous, misunderstood malcontent who's life was ruined by PTSD; instead, he was only slightly miserly. He was a remarkable man, and I think you will enjoy this song.
GramophoneShane posted this Rudy Vallee rendition of "As Time Goes By" on his YouTube channel. I think this is the first recording of this song I have heard with the verse. My dad's mother was Rudy's biggest fan. I can't listen to him without thinking of her.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Peerless engines are not very plentiful in the Midwest, but this nice one was running at the American Thesherman Show at Pinckneyville last August. It has a bit of a knock; I hope the owner has it fixed before he works this beauty.
Friday, November 13, 2009
"Tea For Two",from the 1925 musical, "No No Nanette" was the first record from our collection of old 78's that we posted on YouTube. We recorded it with our old microphone in front of our faithful Brunswick phonograph, which is the reason this recording sounds a bit tinny. Our new microphone, which does a much better job of picking up these old records from the megaphone is in the shop, because I tripped over the USB cable and it fell to the floor. Hopefully, in a week or two, the True Blue Recording Studio will be back in operation.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
safely and accurately.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Photo Courtesey of Derek, The Packing Rat
If you are a regular reader of the gun blogs you have heard of the annual Gun Blogger Rendezvous in Reno. GBR is also a fund raising benefit for Valour-IT, and in the Packing Rat's photo from GBR-IV we see Major Chuck Ziegenfuss demonstrating a voice activated laptop for the GBR attendees. Valour-IT is one of many Soldiers' Angels projects that benefit wounded American heroes, so please follow the link in this post or on the sidebar, and make a donation.
God Bless the men and women who serve. 'The Big Parade' still rings true today, even though it was written shortly after the Great War that ended on November 11, 1918.
I wish life could be as simple and as sweet for our heroes as this next song from 1918 depicted the war in France. One of my high school teachers served in an anti-arcraft artillery unit in England during WWII. The personal experience he shared with us about war was his uncle, a WWI vet. The uncle lived with my teacher's family while he was growing up. The uncle's life was a constant struggle to cough up stuff from his lungs, and fighting for breath, because he was gassed while he was in France. Don't forget; thank a veteran!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
This doesn't look difficult, but don't expect a call to action. The reporter who wrote this will probably be called on the carpet for using the word "enemy."
Monday, November 9, 2009
I had the opportunity to help with mopup on a little forest fire last week, just as it was getting dark one evening. This snag was burning, and was leaning into another burning snag. The firefighters on the scene knew that they wanted them down because both trees were very close to their fire line, but were hesitant to start cutting. There was plenty of potential here for a cutter to be hurt, but the process turned out OK, and I think I could sell this as artwork to some museum, judging from some of the modern sculptures I have seen in recent years.
If you are faced with a lodged snag, do not work under it, or try to drop the tree it is leaning against. If you do that, you are the mouse in the trap. The quickest way to take down a tree like this is to make vertical cuts downward, using wedges in the top of the cut to keep the kerf open. Work on the good side of the snag so that if the top comes down it falls away from you, and be poised for a quick exit at the end of every cut. You only have a second or less to be out of the impact zone if a limb drops out of the top when the trunk ka-chunks down. Keep all of the other people on the scene back a safe distance, and remember to re-evaluate the situation and state the plan to yourself before each cut. Dope out snags carefully so that you are on the good side when you turn one loose, whatever type of cut you are using. When the hinge fails, (eventually one will when you cut snags.) you want to be on the good side, and well out your escape route.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Pax41 posted this delightful 1910 recording of 'The Glow-Worm' played by the Vienna Quartet. ( Violin, Flute, Piano, Cello). I think we have an Edison record of this song played on a Xylophone; I will have to do a search for it. When I think of this song I automatically think of Spike Jones and the recording he made during the 1940's. Here is a video posted by Adelfred that shows us the antics that went on during Spike's live performances.
Ernie Pyle told in his writings that he wasn't afraid of being bitten by a snake; he was afraid of SEEING a snake. Knowing how Ernie felt about snakes, the post he wrote in Chapter VI of "Home Country" must have been a white knuckle experience.
Rudy Hale and his wife lived alone back of their little store fifty miles east of Yuma, and there was no one else for miles. Three steps from their door and you were ankle deep in bare sand. The Hales caught live rattlesnakes for a living. To me that would be ten thousand times worse than death. But they enjoyed it.
The Arizona sands are filthy with rattlers. Rudy and his wife worked the desert for snakes as a farmer works his land for crops. Rattlers built them a place to live, rattlers kept them in food and clothing, rattlers provided the start for their little gas and grocery business. The loved rattlers.
Rudy was born in Illinois of German parentage, and he still had an accent. He was brought up with the idea of being a surgeon. A relative sent him to school abroad and he studied medicine in Austria for years. When the relative died, his schooling stopped and his life turned.
He wound up in California, where he worked for twenty years as a master mechanic. Then carbon monoxide laid him out and he went to the Arizona desert for his health. It was after two years there that the Hales came right up against it and had to turn to snakes for a living.
They started out by advertising in a San Diego paper. Before they knew it they were swamped with orders. They sold snakes to zoos all over the country, to private collectors, to medical centers for serum, to state reptile farms, to the Mayo brothers. "They say there aren't snakes in Ireland," said Mrs. Hale. "But I know there are, because we've shipped snakes to Ireland."
They didn't even use forked sticks to catch snakes-just picked them up with bare hands and put them in a box slung over the shoulder. They usually hunted snakes for an hour after daylight and an hour before dark. In eight years they had caught approximately twenty thousand rattlers. Rudy had caught as many as fifty sidewinders in one hour's hunting. They had the desert cleaned almost bare of snakes for twenty miles around.
There are twelve species of rattlers in that part of Arizona. The sidewinder is the most deadly, and the Hales specialized in sidewinders. They used to get fifty cents apiece for them. "I just wish I could get fifty cents agian," Rudy said. "They're down to twenty cents now." The most he ever got for a snake was seven dollars; that was a rare Black Mountain rattler. He said the huge snakes didn't bring as much as medium-sized ones. They were harder to keep in captivity, and zoos didn't want them.
Hale had caught rattlers as big around as his leg. He had caught them so big that they'd overpower him and pull his arms together, and he'd have to throw them away from him and then pick them up and try again. "I'm careful not to hurt a snake,' he said. "Any snake I ship is a good healthy snake."
Both Hale and his wife would let rattlers crawl all over them. She even carried them around in her pockets. Neither of them had ever been bitten, but her brother had. He was bitten five times, quick as a flash, by a nest of sidewinders. He didn't say a word-just went and lay down in the sand, flat on his back. stretched out his arms, shut his eyes, and lay there still as death for half an hour. Then he went back to work. Nothing ever happened. The Hales said that most people who died of snakebite really died of fright. Mrs. Hale's brother sat down on a rattler once. One time Rudy himself stepped right into the middle of a huge coiled rattler; his foot slipped and fell down among the coils, but for some reason he wasn't bitten.
There's no danger if you wach your business, Hale said. You mustn't be thinking about anything else when you're picking up a sidewinder. He said the hand was quicker than a snake's strike, and if you missed him the first grab you could jerk back in time. Lots of times when they saw a rattler coiled they would just ease up and slide a hand through the sand under it and lift it up right in the palm of the hand, still coiled.
Rudy had only one sidewinder on hand the day I was there. It was in a roofless concrete tank behind the house. He took me out for a look after dark and turned on a dim little electric light. He took a stick with a nail in it and got the sidewinder hooked over the nail, and had it lifted almost to the top of the tank. Just then his little red dog stuck it cold nose up my pants leg. I let out a yell and landed somewhere way over the other side of Gila Bend, and never did go back after the car."
Excerpt from "Home Country" by Ernie Pyle, William Sloane Associates, Inc., New York, 1947
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
The change to Dark Time is taking some effort for me this year; I can't seem to be able to reset my body clock. That got me to thinking about Harry Lauder and "It's Nice To Get Up In The Morning," so we are doing a re-post of this great song. Good Nicht!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
One of the accessories you will see on old gas engines is the priming cup. It is a little brass petcock with a cup on the top, which is screwed into a port on the combustion chamber with a tapered pipe thread. Before cranking, you open it with the lever on the side, and squirt or pour a little gasoline into the cup to charge the cylinder. You will see the operator perform the routine in this brief video.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
EdmundusRex has posted a great jazz tune from the Roaring Twenties! According to the writeup and comments on his YouTube channel, "Early Every Morn" was recorded at Gennett Records, New York, December 12, 1924.
Louis Armstrong (cornet) Charlie Irvis (trombone) Sidney Bechet (clarinet,sax) Lil Hardin (piano) Buddy Christian (banjo) Alberta Hunter (vocals)